Autism and Confidence

Confidence, or lack of it, can be a big issue for people with autism.  Often autistic people will feel extremely anxious or un-confident when going in to social situations such as school, college or work.  There can be many different reasons for this: One is that anxiety is something that naturally comes along with autism, and therefore the more anxious somebody is before a certain situation, the less confident they are going to be when they are in that situation.  Another reason is that because a lot of autistic people struggle so much with their social skills, situations are not always easy for them, and therefore they lose a lot of confidence that they might have had if they knew they`d be able to cope better in a given situation.  Also, because autistic people struggle with sensory issues, and things such as sensory/emotional overload, they know that even the most basic of situations can have unseen problems for them —- therefore it is not uncommon for autistic people to lack confidence in seemingly simple situations, and interactions.  Because a lot of people with autism do struggle to do things independently, this can also be another factor in how confident they are in a certain situation; they might be confident and happy to do something if they have somebody they trust with them, but lack confidence, and be extremely anxious, if required to do that same thing independently.    A lack of confidence in social situations, and busy places, is one of the characteristics of autism.  It doesn’t mean that everybody who is autistic is going to lack confidence throughout their life, but the vast majority of autistic people will have experienced incidences where not having enough confidence was a problem for them.

So what can be done to improve confidence?  Well in theory, many things.  It is a problem if  lack of confidence stems from no logical source —- that it is just part of the person`s personality – and can be much harder to deal with, especially if the individual has been bullied, or made fun of in the past, as this will only add to their lack of confidence.  But everybody should at least try and to be more confident, because the more confident you are the easier it is to get by in life; the easier you will make friends, and the more opportunities you will get.  One of the simplest ways of becoming more confident is simply just to accept who you are.  This sounds extremely corny and clichéd, but it is true.  For most people, autistic or otherwise, a lack of confidence stems from believing that they are not good enough, and that others will judge them.  A person has to realise that they should not live their lives in order to appease other people, and that even if some people don’t like the way theyyou behave, or the way theyyou talk, well that is not the end of the world.  Everybody makes judgements about people when they see them, and hear them speak —- even people who claim they don’t —- but ultimately it is up to the individual how much notice they take of those judgements, and whether to let them affect their lives, or not.

Another thing that people can do that is perhaps more practical if they struggle with being independent, or dealing with social situations, is to practise these situation; go over them in your head, and perhaps do some drawings/notes of what they might be like —- plan for it, and be prepared.  Be accepting of the fact that you find it difficult, but plan for that as best you can.  As with most things relating to autism, forward planning can have a huge impact on how confident you are in many situations.  There may be things that work for some people, but don’t work for others.  F, for example, some people like to pretend that they are somebody else in different situations —– somebody neuro-typical —- or that they are in a film, so they know what they have to say and do.  Others like to simply remind themselves that other people struggle as well, and there are probably many people who lack confidence.  One thing some people do —- that you should try to avoid —- is to use alcohol to become more confident in social situations.  One thing I have heard several autistic people say is that the only time they are happy to go out with their friends is when they are drinking, and therefore feeling confident because they are uninhibited.  It is a simple fact that nobody should be dependent on alcohol to have a good time, and even though I don’t judge people who do use alcohol to become sociable, I think they should do their best to retain some of that confidence even when they don’t drink.

So even though lack of confidence can be a major problem for autistic people, there are ways around it.  But the important thing to remember is that if you wait until you feel fully confident to do something, when you have autism the chances are you`ll probably end up doing nothing.  Just as somebody can step in to a boxing ring fully confident of winning, and be knocked out in the first round, so too can somebody with autism go in to a social situation with zero confidence, but a desire to make an effort, and come out of it with several new friends, and a new-found feeling of confidence.  Having the desire to make an effort is more important than having the confidence that you will succeed.

My name is Paddy-Joe Moran. I am a 19 year old autistic author of two books, and co-founder of autism advice service ASK-PERGERS? If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out my free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

You can also find books written by me at:

Mark Blakey

Mark Blakey is the founder of the Aspergers Test Site, after a successful career working in IT Mark wanted to share what he learned from his own diagnosis. He is the author of "Emotional Mastery for Adults with Aspergers" and "An Introduction to Aspergers Syndrome". Having received lots of questions from parents with autistic children, Mark went on to found Autism Parenting Magazine. The magazine has become an essential resource aimed at improving the quality of life for families effected by Autism. Its a monthly publication containing lots of helpful articles to help develop social skills, manage challenging behavior and improve communication.

  • Scott Deutsch says:

    This is SOOOOO true! I was asked by a woman, “Scott, why don’t you stand up for yourself? Why are you a wimp? Why don’t you speak up when somebody insults you?” To quote Lady Gaga, “Baby, I was born this way” “I’m not a wimp, I just don’t interrupt people when they are talking…” “It is possible that somebody else sees something in me that I never noticed before, and they wish to make fun of me, or I’m more sensitive to derision/insults/bullying that a ‘normal’ person would be…” I’m not a BAD person, but I’m really lonely, I have ZERO friends, I was treated like a ghost in school, “Oh, Scott. We didn’t even see you there…” For multiple reasons I don’t go to family reunions, High school reunions, or anything else…I assisted in babysitting pre-school children but they grow up and leave (THESE were my friends!!!). I am 46 years old, and I really feel like ending EVERYTHING (no body would miss me anyhow…)

    • will says:

      I would miss you never think like that go to God He is waiting for you to cry out. I too have aspergers and I felt the same as you. giving my life to Jesus has saved my life. I now am the father of 8 year old quadruplets and I am married there will be light at the end of the tunnel just have to look for it don’t give up on life. It is too precious and short. God bless you

    • Ian Hazzard says:

      Hey Scott. I’m an Aspie and I feel the same way – I really suffer from anxiety and lack of confidence although I’ve been fighting hard to overcome that. I’ve found Twitter to be a good way to connect to the autistic community – there are lots of great, supportive people. Have a look. Cheers, Ian.

    • Helen says:

      Scott, it’s really distressing to hear you feel this way, but it does really seem like you have a to have a lot to give! I have been in that lonely place where you feel you are just fading away. It’s awful. Not sure what to say, just don’t give up on yourself x

    • Leslie says:

      Scott please continue to live your life anyway you want. I had some friends in high school but they weren’t really the kind of friends you want in your life. Please go join some sort of group around where you live. Whether you like knitting, fantasy football, painting, tasting, cooking, politics, or even a gym where you can take some fun classes. Do something to keep you happy whether you make friends or just meet new people you will be having fun because you are doing something enjoyable for yourself. You sound like a great man someone who always tries his best to help others and always be a kind and soft spoken person. Please don’t ever think of ending your life again. I might not know to you but I care about you and i think your life is worth liveing! If you want to feel really special go read the KJV Bible and look up something called the Romans road to salvation. You are a child of God and that makes you AMAZING no matter what “flaws” you might have you are perfect in thee eyes of the Lord! I hope you find your happiness and peace. But please don’t ever hurt yourself because it would hurt my heart and many others if you did. -Leslie Lazarus <3

  • Jen says:

    I think it’s also important to remember that some of the most outgoing and apparently confident people can, at times, be manipulative, deceitful and cowardly. There are always pros and cons.

  • Robert says:

    Hi Paddy , My name is Robert , aged 51 and worked out that I had Aspergers about a year ago. As I learn more about Aspergers, I look back at my life, I can relate so much to how you and all the other Aspie’s struggle with day to day life. The plus factors for you is your age and your awareness of your situation. I have confided with a close friends over my own condition and they all expressed surprise . So to the outside world I was not so different but internally I felt so often so out of my depth. I am now trying to come to terms with how I am but I am finding this very hard. The more I reflect on past events, I am chilled /saddened of the outcome of some of those events. I feel as I open the door to understand this condition I am letting in as many demons as I am trying to put to rest. I shall take a read of your book and thank you for your honesty and courage in coming forwards. Good luck. I only wish I was half as skilled a writer as you. Expressing how I feel has always been a struggle .

  • Kim says:

    Scott, do you have a family? Parents? Siblings? THEY LOVE YOU. They would miss you. Sounds like you are depressed and might benefit from an anti-depressant that also boosts confidence and makes social things easier. That would be Paxil. Or try Wellbutrin, which makes you feel like crap for 5 days but then you feel wonderful and have hope again. I feel everything you’ve said, I was where you are. I still have no friends, but I do have acquaintances I talk with at work and a family who seems to love me, even though no one has visited me where I live, in 12 years. Believe me I used to feel suicidal, but antidepressants saved me from that feeling.

  • dala says:

    Hello, I would like to say I disagree that autistics lack of self confidence has no logical basis. Through the eyes of a Neurotypical person it may seem that way but through the eyes of we Autistics and given the difference in the wiring circuits of our brain compared to an NT brain, it is perfectly logical as to why we struggle with self confidence.
    Keep up the good work!

  • >